Black Hebrews (Hebrew:הכושים העבריים), also known as the African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem, is a small spiritual group of 5,000 members living in Dimona, Israel. Some of them also live in Arad and Mitzpe Ramon.
The members of the group believe they have descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Most of them consider themselves to be Jewish, but mainstream Judaism does not consider them to be Jewish.
Although they are not Jewish according to the Halacha, the Black Hebrews acquired legal status in an agreement reached with the Israel Ministry of the Interior in May 1990. According to that agreement, the Black Hebrews were initially granted tourist status with a visa that entitled them to employment.
They were given temporary resident status for a period of five years. At the end of the five-year period, in 1995, their status was extended for another three years. At the beginning of 2004, the interior minister granted them residency, which does not carry mandatory military service.
The Black Hebrews group was founded in Chicago in the late 1960s, by a former steelworker named Ben Carter.
They derive their income from their famous choir, their seamsters’ workshop, which provides the sect with its colorful clothing, and from their vegetarian restaurant in Arad’s commercial center, with an adjacent factory for vegetarian food products.
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